Baron: The Knickerbocker Club #2 by Joanna Shupe

Baron: The Knickerbocker Club #2 by Joanna Shupe

It’s not often that I find historical romances that are based in the United States and aren’t from either the Civil War or the migrations westward. Joanna Shupe is on the blog today with the second in The Knickerbocker Club series.  Please read on for my review and an excerpt, check out the tour stops to see what other readers thought of the title, and be sure to enter the giveaway where you could win one of Three (3) Signed Paperback copies of BARON.  But first

Baron

Wiliam Sloan is a rich, powerful railroad man with his eyes on political office. He’s ruthless in business and financial dealings, and has connections throughout the social who’s who in the city. Not solely a self-centered man, he’s also protective of his friends and those he cares for, and is particularly upset when his friend seems enchanted with and addicted to a Madame Zolikoff, a medium.

Confronting Madame Zolikoff, convinced her intentions are nefarious and will result in his friend being conned out of money, Will comes across the very down-to-earth and honest Ava. Determined to support her family in the best way she can, Ava has become the medium, providing comfort and some relief to those who wish to converse with loved ones who have passed on. Sure, it’s not entirely on the up and up, but she is seeking only to provide comfort, and the money she earns is her payment for that moment of happiness.

These two are electric: Ava is more than up to the task of standing up to Will: her determination and independence despite her circumstances strike a chord in him, reminiscent of his own difficult relationship with his father.  The connection they share is palpable, the conversations and slow sharing of secrets, wishes and desires, as well as some secrets make the relationship feel more real and plausible as well. With some moments of political machinations of the day, wonderful settings that provide a view of the time and its various social restrictions and some serious steam, it’s a book that is hard to put down.

 

Baron: The Knickerbocker Club #2 by Joanna Shupe

Title: Baron
Author: Joanna Shupe
Series: The Knickerbocker Club #2
Genre: American, Gilded Age, Historical Romance
Published by: Zebra
ISBN: 142013986X
Published on: 25 October, 2016
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 352
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne FlameHalf a Flame

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New York City’s Gilded Age shines as bright as the power-wielding men of the Knickerbocker Club. And one pragmatic industrialist is about to learn that a man may make his own destiny, but love is a matter of fortune . . . 

Born into one of New York’s most respected families, William Sloane is a railroad baron who has all the right friends in all the right places. But no matter how much success he achieves, he always wants more. Having secured his place atop the city’s highest echelons of society, he’s now setting his sights on a political run. Nothing can distract him from his next pursuit—except, perhaps, the enchanting con artist he never saw coming . . .

Ava Jones has eked out a living the only way she knows how. As “Madame Zolikoff,” she hoodwinks gullible audiences into believing she can communicate with the spirit world. But her carefully crafted persona is nearly destroyed when Will Sloane walks into her life—and lays bare her latest scheme. The charlatan is certain she can seduce the handsome millionaire into keeping her secret and using her skills for his campaign—unless he’s the one who’s already put a spell on her . . .

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

Header - Excerpt - Tasty

 

For several minutes, he cut through the long hallways in the bowels of the theater. Now at the door to her dressing room, he knocked. A slide of a lock and then the door opened to reveal a brunette woman in a black shirtwaist and skirt, the same costume she’d worn on stage. Her lips were still painted a deep red. He inclined his head ever so slightly. “Madam Zolikoff.”

“Come in, please.” Her voice was deep and husky, a sultry tone more suited to a bedroom than a stage. Thankfully, there was no trace of that ludicrous Russian accent she’d used in front of the crowd. Perhaps this conversation would not be as difficult as he’d feared.

She stepped aside. “I’ve been expecting you, Mr. Sloane.”

No surprise she knew his face, but had she noticed him in the audience? Three steps brought him inside her dressing room, if one could call a space no bigger than a cupboard a “room.” Not enough square footage existed here to allow for more than the small table and chair already in place. A mirror hung on the wall above the table, and a blond wig rested on a stand atop said table. With nowhere to go, he folded his hands behind his back.

She glided around him and lowered into the sole chair, facing away from him, and reached for a cloth. He watched in the mirror as she slowly swiped the cloth over her mouth to remove the lip color. She didn’t rush and Will had plenty of time to study her mouth. He highly suspected the display another type of performance, one designed to throw him off balance.

“Is there another name I may call you, other than your stage name?”

“No.”

“I feel ridiculous calling you Madam Zolikoff.”

“That is your problem, not mine.” Finished with her cloth, she dropped the scrap to the table and caught his gaze in the mirror. “We are not friends, Mr. Sloane, so let’s not pretend otherwise. I know why you are here.”

“Is that so?” He hadn’t expected her to be so forthright. In his mind, she’d been meek and frightened, concerned over the unpleasantness a man in his position could bring down on a woman in her position. But this woman seemed neither meek nor frightened. “And why am I here?”

“You want to scare me away from John. Get him away from my evil clutches.” She wriggled her fingers menacingly on this last sentence. “How’s that?”

“Good. This saves us both time. Now you may agree to never see Bennett again, stop bilking him out of hundreds of dollars, and stay out of his life forever.”

“Bilking him?” Her lip curled, drawing Will’s attention back to her mouth, damn it. “I’ve got news for you, mugwump, I’ve earned every dollar providing services to your friend—and not those kind of services, either. John and I are strictly business.”

Will smirked. He’d never met an unmarried man and woman who spent hours together with money exchanged who were “strictly business.” “Miss whomever you are, I don’t care what kind of lies you’re shoveling out there to audiences, but I’m not some rube fresh off the farm. I know what you’re about, and all of it stinks.”

“Oh, indeed? So what am I about, then?”

“Blackmail. And if he doesn’t pay, you’ll take whatever personal details you’ve learned about him to the papers and turn him into a laughingstock. I will not let that happen.”

She rose, and, because of the tight space, this put her close enough to where he could see the hazel flecks in her brown eyes. Were those freckles on her nose? “I don’t care who you are or what you think of me. If you think I’m going to let some stuffed, pompous railroad man scare me away from my best client, you are dead wrong.”

 

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About Joanna Shupe

Award-winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. In 2013 she won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical.

Joanna’s first Regency historical, The Courtesan Duchess, received a nomination for 2015′s Best First Historical by RT Book Reviews, while the Washington Post named The Lady Hellion as one of 2015’s top five romance novels.

She currently lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.

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